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five positives to remote monitoring of BYOD devices in classrooms


Most of us remember a far off time when computers, books, and telephones were three separate items; the third of which had no place in a classroom. Then in stepped smartphones and tablets. Let’s face it – not only have smartphones become commonplace in schools for teachers, students and staff, handheld digital devices are now becoming a staple in effective teaching.

Rather than restricting digital natives from using their tablets in class, countless schools are adopting bring your own device (BYOD) policies, which embrace the technology. In fact, “a recent survey conducted by the Center for Digital Education and the National School Board Association found that uptake of BYOD in American schools has increased over 30 percent since last year’s survey; currently, 56 percent of school districts are implementing BYOD programs.” (NMC Horizon Report, 2014 K-12 Edition). Another report, the SSIA Vision K-12 Survey, says K-12 schools forecast an increase in the use of BYOD with 85 percent of secondary, 66 percent of elementary and 83 percent of K-12 district participants saying handheld digital devices will be allowed within the next five years.

With such high statistics of BYOD adoption in schools, procedures must be put into place to monitor students’ use and activities so that devices are a learning tool rather than a distraction. Although controversial to some, the case can be made that remote monitoring of BYOD devices by instructors and IT staff can and should be a critical part of a district’s BYOD plan and policy. Basically, reports suggest that even schools that haven’t created a policy for BYOD, will be doing so very soon!

To help you plan and/or revise your district’s BYOD use policies or make the case for remote monitoring software purchases, here are five positives to remote monitoring BYOD electronics:

Positive 1: Complying with federal laws

In order to take part in the Universal Service Program for Schools and Libraries (E-Rate), a federal telecommunications and information services affordability program, schools must comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). CIPA requirements state that schools must block or filter Internet access to a host of harmful images and activities. Additionally, to comply with CIPA, schools must meet two other requirements:

  • Internet safety policies that include monitoring online activities of minors
  • Provide education to minors on appropriate online behavior

If your school is already receiving the E-Rate discounts, BYOD policies must comply with CIPA. This makes implementing remote monitoring software mandatory, not optional.

There are several other Internet safety requirements for compliance with CIPA, which can be found here.  Find information on the newest E-Rate policies, changes, and funding here.

Positive 2: Protecting teachers

Without remote monitoring abilities, a teacher is at risk. In schools with cyberbullying policies (and even schools without them), it is typically the teacher’s responsibility to report any student activity that could be harmful. If a teacher reports that a student is bullying or being bullied, he or she is expected to provide proof. When attempting to monitor a student’s online activities on a student-owned device without remote monitoring software, providing proof is often the student’s word against the teacher. Having remote monitoring in place gives the teacher the protection of having recorded online activities to back up any reporting of suspicious behavior. In addition, having software in place that monitors student activity can take the responsibility of reporting off the teacher’s shoulders. When activity is monitored and put into reports, there’s no arguing with data.

Positive 3: No more “Sage on the Stage”

“Class, everyone turn to page 23 of your textbook and follow along while I lecture for 45 minutes.” What?! With the new digitally native mindset this old model just doesn’t work anymore. Handheld device technology ramps up the inherent need to shift from teacher-led, lecture-based learning models, to interactive, student initiated educational activities. The “Sage on the Stage” idea of “teacher-say, student-do” instruction can be turned on its head with the combination of BYOD electronics and remote monitoring. Rather than writing websites on the board, telling students to plow through online activities, then having a discussion afterward (BORING!) a teacher can push out a website to all students simultaneously, click through with them, or even allow one student’s screen to show on everyone else’s. Giving students the reigns allows them to showcase their capabilities, and can provide excellent opportunities for formative evaluation of learning.

From simple apps and tools to full STEM projects, this blog post from eSchool News provides 10 resources for mobile learning lesson plans!

Positive 4: Productivity, productivity, productivity!

With remote monitoring technology in place, such as Impero Education Pro, teachers can now view iPad screens remotely, in real time from within the classroom. Students can also share their iPad screens with their classmates. Not only does this keep students engaged in the classroom, but the teacher can now ensure their students cannot access illegal websites and has full insight on the terms and phrases that his or her students are using during online searches. These features allow a teacher to keep to the business of teaching, rather than running around the classroom trying to keep everyone on task.

Positive 5: Protecting student privacy

As has been reported recently, using remote monitoring software on school-issued computers has been a controversial subject. Several US school districts have been involved in lawsuits over using remote monitoring functions that utilize device cameras for surveillance of students off campus and in their homes. BYOD devices, when accompanied by independent platforms such as Impero Software’s solutions, can only be monitored while on school networks. Impero technologies are installed by professional technicians who set parameters that cannot be adjusted by administrators or teachers. Cameras on portable devices cannot be monitored. This ensures there can be no invasion of a student’s privacy, allowing peace of mind to all parties involved.

Additional resources for school BYOD planning and implementation:

6 benefits of BYOD in the classroom  – by Tiziana Saponaro, international teacher

Making BYOD work in schools – 3 case studies – Emerging Ed Tech

Oak Hill Schools BYOD Plan (Don’t re-invent the wheel!)

Impero Remote Manager – remote access software solution